Ralph Lauren’s little pieces on an
ideal world —

I loved Ralph Lauren's reply to a fashion journalist when in launching his fragrance Safari it was discovered that that Ralph had never been to Africa. His reply to the cynical journalist was “My Africa is better than Africa”.

In a single phrase it speaks volumes of Ralph Lauren's brilliance in building a global fashion brand, which has captured people's imagination. Clearly he doesn't sell fashion; rather, he sells little pieces of an ideal world. And, just whose world does he wish us to occupy in buying the clothes and furnishings he designs.

The Great Gatsby is Scott Fitzgerald's demolition of the American dream, exploring the social friction between the up-and-coming and established elite. Gatsby lives a fabulous yet ultimately superficial life. He creates an imaginary picture of himself, no more real than Superman. Put very simply, Jay Gatsby lives for the American dream but has European sartorial sensibilities. It's a description which fits many well-to-do prep school dandies, but what makes Gatsby style so great is his use of colour and his attention to even the finest of details. He not only dresses in the dapper suits of the era but he makes them his own with the charming combination of daring pastels and naïve earnestness.

It's this invented Gatsby that we are so taken by. We empathize with his charming naivety and we admire the fact he can carry it all off in a Candy cotton pink suit. He makes things cool. You will find echoes of Gatsby everywhere in the world courtesy of Ralph Lauren as his admirers live vicariously through the Lauren Fashion story. Those upstate Long Island languid afternoons around the tennis courts in the Teddy Roosevelt era of the 1930s continues to be capture customers season after season with his enduring brand.

Despite a global recession his shares have seen a 38% increase throughout this previous year. The strength behind the continuing earnings growth lies in Ralph Lauren's image as the premier “American” luxury brand.